My friend, Maggie, has done tai chi for several years. I have seen women up early morning in the parks in China and in Thailand doing tai chi. I used to walk through Central Park on a Sturday or Sunday morning and see a group in a certain lovely clearing doing tai chi. I understood it was easy, peaceful, good for the blood pressure and quiet. This picture epitomizes my general impressions about tai chi.
So I enrolled in a tai chi class for three months at a senior center. Happily we are in a room with large windows that look out through trees to a small kettle pond -- for winter time in New England this is as "outdoor" as it gets. (To digress, kettle ponds abound on Cape Cod they occur anytime there is a depression in the land slightly lower than sea level; it naturally fills with water. Around me there are three in less than a six block radius.)
I did yoga many years. Hatha yoga, as I did it, is largely static. One assumes a posture, holds it stretching or balanced or usually both and then you move on to another. Tai chi is dynamic; the body moves most of the time -- gently, yes, but with harmony and balance and symmetry of all the body parts all the time. This is new to me. I have never had dance lessons and am not a good dancer. I am not accustomed to moving my body with the kind of awareness and deliberation needed in tai chi. The classes are a challenge to me -- quite a challenge. And that's good.
Learning new things at any age is good; learning to use the body gracefully is always good. I'm a bit sorry the teacher -- who is half the age of we seniors in the class, is not better at explaining what we should be doing. This was my fourth class and I am slowly beginning to understand what I should be doing ... not that I do it well. But I have learned to have patience with myself and my undertakings so I think I'm doing the right thing by adding this to my life at this point.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!